Dogghr visited.....


Well-Known Member
...the ranch earlier in summer. Things have changed considerably so I thought he would enjoy a few current pics.

Remember this spot? We walked through there...I pointed out some forb diversity and big mentioned some thistle plants. They are still there....I did nothing....but they are dwarfed by the biomass of late summer. For others.....regrowth after March prescribed fire through a 3 yr cutover for 'old field' effect. Notice heavy use of ragweed in food plot in foreground....clover is long gone....can't handle hot and dry too well....that is okay ragweed is high quality and free....I didn't need to mow it!

Out of the truck window from the road.......little bluestem and purpletop tridens providing fall screening cover. Can you see the deer in there? Neither can I!

In the 8ac native land grazing regen field, I saw something new and tall so went to investigate (took pics and sent to NH). Turned out to be Tall Guara towering over a green brier patch....a realease stimulated by cattle impact and the conditions of this growing season. Only other place, I've seen it is along county roads and some long term rest fields. With our changes in grazing management, every growing season is like Christmas....a new package under the tree each year!

I live in North Central Texas and am considering planting some Gaura plants in my backyard. However, we have a large deer population in the area. Are deer generally drawn to Gaura as a food source?
Though many commercial plant retailers advertise Gaura as deer-resistant or deer-proof, several studies say otherwise. I accessed two journal articles on Texas white-tailed deer dietary preferences and found evidence to suggest that the animals are likely drawn to Gaura as a food source, with a 1968 study by Chamrad and Box in The Journal of Range Management even classifying it as a “high priority” food for deer in South Texas. A later study by Kie, Drawe, and Scott in the same journal suggested that more of it may be consumed by fawns than by adults. A study done by the Noble Foundation for the Cross Timbers region of North Texas and Oklahoma lists Gaura as a small but definite percentage of deer diets in that region. In all these studies, the percentage consumed in relation to other plants was low, but that may be because of low available amounts of the plant in relation to other food sources.

Nature can bring some surprises. It will be interesting to see if the Guara continues to find a place in the ecosystem there. Let us know if you find any browsing. It looks like there is a lot of it - and browsing can be hard to find when it is that way.
Saw quite a bit of browsing in that area during turkey season.....maybe that is one plant they were hitting...or they are just taking a few leaves off the stem like they do with other forbs. IT does make a pretty good screen and feathered edge and that is a good open place for tall cover. The natural flow of water will take the seed into 'routine cow lands' so we will se how she fares down stream!
Looks good, D. Hard to beat ragweed for natural food plot. But I really like the bluestem. Obviously the Gaura is quite drought tolerant. Question is the deer browse it due to lack of selection in dry areas such as south Texas, or will it be selectively browsed as a prime food source? Pics bring back good memories of a great motorcycle ride to the Sooner and Lone Star States... except for the incessant rains.
Guara in the pic is growing in that vegetated waterway I showed you which collects water from about 7 upland basins. Our water dynamics have changed and that influences plant diversity. Upstream basins are likely the source of many seeds....we get seed in the waterway from both disturbed areas on our side and long term rest areas on the neighbors. I don't want you to get the idea Guara is a dry soil plant....because the pic is bottomland soil...area of adaptation is actually SE US.

When diversity is truly lacking and animal density too high then 'any available forage' becomes 'preferred forage'. So....yes in some areas with lack of high plant selection, then low to moderate quality forbs become high preference out of necessity (the animals would starve otherwise). Similarly, when a property is managed for increased plant diversity, then the animals respond by increasing plant selection opportunity and you get a truer picture of what is really high preference and what is low preference forage and the timing of use. Cattle or deer doesn't matter....their response is the increased tasting and selection with increased diversity!

Overall, animal density, soil type, climatic factors, and successional stage of the landscape determine forage preference and use. Shifts in animal use among plants indicate shifts in forage quality and availability on the landscape. Animal density and disturbance are the factors we have some control over....the rest is Nature, soil and climate.

4 observations with cattle and moves....widest grass leaf in pasture is the first eaten as it has the highest energy value per bite....when dietary N is lacking legumes are sought early in the move......age modulates plant selection and preference....nutritional wisdom is passed from old to young and young to old.